How To Spike A Watermelon – Balls Vodka Review

When I decided to do my first triathlon in the middle of the summer in Florida – I knew I wanted to spend the rest of the day on the beach celebrating with all of my new fellow “triathletes.” A few weeks before the tri I was offered the opportunity to try Balls Vodka – and I knew just exactly what I wanted to do with it. Years ago I perfected the art of spiking a watermelon – and knew there would be nothing better on a crazy hot day in July than an ice cold vodka filled watermelon! I began “intoxicating” my delicious melon three days prior to the event – and it was absolutely perfect!

how to make a spiked watermelon

Balls Vodka is 100% American made vodka bottled in New York. It is a premium quality vodka with a sense of fun. Distilled four times it boasts a quite ballsy 80 proof while still being smooth. You can pour your Balls over ice or use in your favorite mixer.

How To Spike a Watermelon

1. Cut about a one inch square plug from the top of the watermelon rind.

2. Using a skewer, gently poke holes in the watermelon going every direction – about five holes.

3. Gently pour in vodka – letting it slowly seep in to the holes and in around the seeds.

4. Replace the plug and put in the refrigerator to absorb.

5. Repeat the process every 4-6 hours until you have reached your desired potency.

balls vodka

I have seen people simply turn the bottle up and leave it stuck in the watermelon, but in my experience that can make it entirely too strong. This method gives a great flavor, without it being so overbearing that you make a horrible face with every bite. Balls Vodka was the perfect choice for my watermelon – it gave it just enough zing without being bitter. I chose about an 8 pound melon and used about three cups of vodka. The result was absolutely delicious. And – since I had only used three cups from my Big Balls bottle – we had plenty left over to enjoy with Red Bulls and bloody mary mix. After all, it is important to rehydrate after a triathlon…

watermelon

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Zoës Kitchen – Now Open In Pensacola

A few weeks ago Mike and I had the pleasure of checking out Zoës Kitchen, a new restaurant located at Cordova Mall here in Pensacola. I had never even heard of  Zoës Kitchen, but I love when new things come to Pensacola, so I was excited when I was invited to go on opening night to learn all about it.

zoes kitchen pensacola

Zoës Kitchen is a popular, Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant that offers amazingly fresh meals for dine in or to go. The menu features made-from-scratch entrees using fresh, honest ingredients. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are also available. They even offer catering – which is great for events or just in office meetings!

We arrived around 6:30 on Thursday night – and the place was already packed! They had only been open since lunch, but the manager – who was awesome – said it had been busy since the doors opened. I guess everyone is excited to check it out! I was super impressed at how well everything was running – especially for it being the first day. All of the staff was cheerful and seemed knowledgable about the menu and were happy to help us.

zoes kitchen

We began with the Hummus Trio… now I have to admit I didn’t think I was going to be that much of a fan of pesto hummus – but if you mix the pesto hummus with the roasted red pepper hummus… my goodness it is like a flavor explosion.  You also get great dippers – like fresh cucumbers, soft pita bread and toasted pita chips to dip. I could have just made this my entire meal. It was delicious.

hummus trio

I ordered two types of Roll-Ups – the Spinach Roll-Ups with Grilled Chicken and the Chicken Roll-Ups. They came with a dipping sauce that the manager explained was made with a Greek yogurt and green onions… I could have drank it with a straw. It was awesome. Mike ordered a Zoës Club Pita which was really tasty, and also checked out the Grilled Chicken Fingers from the Kids Meals. I loved that they had healthy options even for kids – I know I am sick of my girls eating fried chicken tenders all the time so we were happy to have some healthier choices. The thing we kept saying over and over was just how FRESH everything tasted.

zoes kitchen menu

Like a good blogger, I updated my Facebook page to say I was checking it out – so as we were being served, several of our friends showed up to check it out as well! We thought that was awesome! They ordered the Steak Kabobs – which looked and smelled amazing – and the Salmon Kabobs which I was really impressed by. Salmon is so easy to mess up and I am often disappointed with restaurant salmon knowing I can make it better at home. This was fresh and flaky and cooked to perfection.

I also loved that there is a nice big table right in the front of the restaurant – perfect for a big group to meet up! The table sat ten – something that it hard to find in most restaurants – but especially with “fast food!” And since the food is not only delicious but healthy too, I could see this being a great hangout after a POUNDFit class or for a working lunch!

zoes kitchen in pensacola florida

We thoroughly enjoyed Zoës Kitchen – in fact I took the girls back the very next day – I had to have more hummus!!! They loved it and my Dad joined us after seeing we were checked in there on Facebook. In fact just yesterday I was heading home from a meeting and zipped in to get some food to go. I love that they have a “Fresh Take” section where you can literally just grab and go.  Zoës Kitchen has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in Pensacola – hands down.

You can check out Zoës Kitchen now at Cordova Mall – right on the corner near the Ross entrance. Doors are open daily from 11am to 9pm. You can see the entire Pensacola menu on their website – ZoesKitchen.com.

Have you been to Zoës Kitchen yet?

Back To School #CycleSurvival Guide with Kotex

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CycleSurvival #CollectiveBias

Can you believe it is already almost time for back to school? As much as I was looking forward to Summer, the girls and I are certainly looking forward to getting back to the routine and structure that comes along with back to school. We are looking so forward to school starting in fact, that we have already begun getting ready for the upcoming school year. Hey – being prepared is important for girls! The Teen has a particularly interesting school year ahead. Being in her third year of the veterinary academy comes long days of labs followed by longer nights of interning at local vet offices and shelters. She will be inside and outside, handling large and small animals, performing everything from shots to surgeries – all while needing to look and feel her best no matter what may be going on with her.

kotex #cyclesurvival

The girls and I headed to Walgreens to start our back to school shopping. Not only do they have a great selection – but we can get just about everything in one place – without the chaos we have found in other stores. We also love the Balance Rewards card which helps us save a ton of money on stuff we have to buy anyway – that is always a perk. You can get school supplies, medical stuff, after school snacks – and of course cosmetics which are a “must have” for any teenage girls bag. I was most concerned with getting her a bag for those particularly long days when it was “that time of the month” – since she will be on her feet for hours with few breaks, and will not have time to come home between school and her internship. I put together a Cycle Survival Kit for her to just grab and go and have everything she needs in one place.

We started with the most obvious Cycle Survival Kit necessity – U by Kotex CleanWear® pads. The Kotex CleanWear pads have new technology to make them cleaner and more comfortable for long term wear. Since The Teen will be in scrubs having to crouch and stoop down a lot to pick up small animals and such, I wanted to make sure to get her something that would move with her – so she wouldn’t have to worry having embarrassing period stories to tell to her kids later… like her mother did. *cough* 

kotex

Next it was time to start filling the bag with all of the Cycle Survival must haves. We perused the store for a while – finding all kinds of great stuff. We picked up a pack of Bic razors and her favorite EOS Honeysuckle Honeydew EOS lip balm. Right now Walgreens is having a promotion  when you buy $15 of participating U by Kotex, EOS, and BIC products, you get 3,000 Balance Reward Points! Those will come in handy when we shop for all of Midge’s back to school necessities in a few weeks.

kotex cycle survival wallgreens

walgreens

We also grabbed some other period essentials – just in case. I think we packed her little bag perfectly. Besides the pads, razors, and EOS we also picked up:

  • a little package of tissues – for when those little emotional moments hit
  • some makeup remover wipes – in case we need to touch things up
  • a mini deodorant – for the days she is working outside
  • a mini hand sanitizer – because you can never have too much of that stuff
  • a little tub of lip balm that says “Happy Thoughts” – to remember to always choose happy
  • TOOTSIE ROLLS!!! Because you know you want chocolate when it’s that time.

We put everything together in a colorful little makeup bag so it is quick and easy to grab and go, and can be tossed in to her backpack when she needs it. I know The Teen is very much like me, and there is so much peace of mind that comes with just knowing that you are prepared for when things happen – like starting your period. She says she now feels confident about that time of the month, even with her crazy schedule and workload. Less stress for her – means less worry for Mom! It is a total win-win.

Fix-It Chips

The Cycle Survival Kit is a must have for any teen age girl heading back to school, but I have one more tip for “fixing everything.” Whether your girl is suffering from a broken heart, dealing with that time of the month, or stressing over upcoming finals, the Fit It Chips are the perfect little indulgence. Just a few ingredients and a microwave, and you have the perfect solution to all of life’s little inconveniences.

fix it chips

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite potato chips – we used Ruffles because they are nice and strong
  • 1 cup Caramel bits
  • 1 cup Milk Chocolate Morsels
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • Pecan pieces

Start by laying out your potato chips in a single layer either on a cookie sheet or wax paper.

potato chips

 

Melt your caramel bits in the microwave – stirring often to prevent scorching. Add in two tablespoons of whipping cream and mix slowly until nice and smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle slowly over potato chips – making sure to get some on every single one.

caramel

Do the same with your chocolate morsels – adding in the oil to make the chocolate nice and smooth. You want to work quickly – the caramel and chocolate will set quickly. When you have finished drizzling the chocolate, use your hands to sprinkle on pecans. Let chips cool and then gently break apart and enjoy!

fixit chips

These chips are quick and easy to make – and give you the perfect sweet-salty-savory-crunchy-chewy deliciousness that you crave when you are feeling puny.

fix it chips 2

How are you helping your girls get prepared for Back to School Cycle Survival?

Plant Nanny Helps You Drink More Water

In the last year I have made SO many healthy changes in my life – from getting my eating under control, getting on schedule working out regularly – even teaching POUNDFit Classes at my local gym. But there is one healthy habit that I still struggle with every single day… drinking water.

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They say you are supposed to consume at least half your body weight in ounces every single day. The problem is the only time I ever feel thirsty is when I am working out. I do not drink sodas or coffee – only water – but I literally will go hours without taking a sip. A friend of mine suggested Plant Nanny – a super cute free app that helps you remember to drink water. I have to admit… it has really helped.

plant nanny

Plant Nanny is unlike typical apps that encourage you to drink water with alarms or funny water sounds that you can just tap off and go on with your day. With Plant Nanny you are growing a garden of plants – “watering” them every time you drink. If you do not water your plant, they can die… or at least get very very sad. You can set alarms to remind you to water your little guy every few hours if you need it. Plant Nanny was actually named a Best App of 2013, so I am not sure how I am just now discovering it, but it has certainly become one of my favorite apps in the two weeks I have been using it.

plant-nanny-app

So the way that it works is that you set up your account and decide how much water you should drink each day. Plant Nanny helps you calculate what is best for your weight, body type, and activity level. Then you get to choose your first plant – who will need to be watered just as much as your own body does in order to grow – and what size cup you normally drink. You even have to name your little plant

plant nanny set up

plant nanny set up 2

I chose a Devil’s Ivy and named her Jezzebelle. Isn’t she CUTE?!

plant nanny devils ivy

Now in full disclosure I have to admit, it took some time for me to get used to watering Jezzebelle – or even remembering to drink myself. And a few times she looked a little… umm… sad.

sad plant

But I soon found my groove and not only remembered to water Jezzebelle, but remembered to drink my water every hour as well. And after just a few days I had a nice pretty little plant.

plant nanny

Once your plant is full grown, you get to plant her in your garden, where you can harvest seeds to help your new plants grow. As you go you unlock new plants and garden accessories to add to your garden and can earn extra seeds to help your new plants grow.

plant nanny garden

I have really really loved this app and I am doing SO much better with my water intake – way more so than with any other app I have tried. I still do not ever actually feel “thirsty” but I remember that I have to water my little plant to keep it happy. You can download Plant Nanny for free from iTunes or Google Play.  Oh, and now that Jezzebelle is happily in the garden making seeds, I am now tending to Spike… the cactus.

spike

Jubilee Restaurant Reopens on Pensacola Beach

When I heard a rumor that Jubilee was reopening on Pensacola Beach, I actually squealed. I say often that I “grew up on the barstools of Jubilee” – which for years was known as the absolute best restaurant on the entire island. So many of my childhood memories involve jumping in our boat to head to the Quietwater Boardwalk to spend the day having fun in the sun at Jubilee. We would literally spend all day there – having lunch and then dinner before heading home.

jubilee reopens

Jubilee Oyster Bar & Grille is a celebration of great taste, good friends, and incredible fun. Indulge yourself with our tasty soups, salads, sandwiches, baskets, and of course, the best fresh seafood on the island. Celebrate indoors or enjoy our outdoor waterfront dining. So whether you are in the mood for raw, baked or chargrilled oysters, fresh seafood baskets and entrees, burgers or salads… Jubilee Oyster Bar & Grille is THE BEST BITE ON THE BEACH! Coastal casual waterfront dining on Pensacola Beach.

Back then there was an “Upstairs Jubilee” and a “Downstairs Jubilee.” “Downstairs Jubilee” was a laid back oyster bar where you would see people in shorts and flip flops and occasionally a bathing suit. “Upstairs Jubilee” was much more upscale and their waiters and waitresses actually served in tuxedo jackets and gloves. I remember what a treat it was when I got to dress up and go to “Upstairs Jubilee” as a little girl. As I got older, “Upstairs Jubilee” became a favorite for dates, girls night out, and even before Prom. So many amazing memories happened at Jubilee. When they closed their doors not long after Hurricane Ivan, it was a sad time for everyone.

Mike asked me to go to lunch on opening day last week – and he didn’t have to ask me twice. I jumped at the chance to go check it out. Like every restaurant opening they were running a little bit behind – but honestly it was because the owners wanted to make sure everything was absolutely perfect – as it should be. This was a big deal. Opening a restaurant that was so well known and so well loved – ten years after it closed – was quite a bit of pressure. We said we would wait and headed over to the “little bar” of Capt’n Funs for a drink. The new Jubilee is located inside of the main bar of Capt’n Funs which they have converted to be a restaurant by day, but the same nightlife you know and love from Capt’n Funs by night – just like it used to be. Before long the doors opened and we were officially the second table at the brand new Jubilee.

jubilee

One of the owners – Tom Carmichael – came by to welcome us to the new restaurant. I was so happy to see that Tom was still there. I remembered him as a little girl being one of the “head guys” there – but of course as a child I wasn’t sure what his official title was. It was great to see so much of the same favorites that I remembered from my childhood – it was like stepping back in time.

The “new” Jubilee has perfectly blended “upstairs” and “downstairs” in one location. The feel is very much “downstairs Jubilee” with music playing and sports on the television, but the menu has everything from poboys to grouper chardonnay. Mike and I were starving so we started with the spinach dip and then he ordered a grilled grouper sandwich while I went for the crawfish stuffed flounder.

jubilee food

Everything was absolutely delicious. We nearly licked the spinach dip skillet clean – the little crunch of the toasted parmesan on top was amazing. I could not believe how many crawfish came in my flounder – and I happily gobbled down every one of them. Even Mike – who is not a big fan of seafood – really enjoyed his grouper sandwich because it did not tasty fishy at all. I do have to warn you – the stuffed flounder does still have little bones in it – this is true fresh flounder – not just a little filet like some other restaurants serve. This is a nice generous portion of flaky deliciousness. You can check out the full menu on their website – jubileepensacolabeach.com – and be sure to like them on Facebook for news and events on the beach.

It warmed my heart to see that a place that was so important to me growing up has reopened its doors. Kudos to Tom and all of the new owners as well as the great kitchen and wait staff who were perfect – even from the first few moments of the doors opening. I can not wait to go back and take my girls there, so they can have memories like I do of the best restaurant on Pensacola Beach.